Living the mantra

I believe my abilities, intelligence, and talents can be developed, leading to the creation of new and better ideas.–The Mantra of an Innovative Educator, George Couros

This is my 18th year of teaching. Some might think that after so many years of teaching, I’d be sitting back on my laurels, dusting off those overheads and worksheets, and sunning myself by the pool this summer.

Anyone that thinks dusty worksheets live in my room doesn’t know me.

I am always trying to find the next, greatest thing in education. I want my students to leave my room knowing they have learned something they can use in the future, to know that their time was well spent. I know that I need to keep my saw sharp, because I know Stephen Covey is right: that 7th habit helps make me a better teacher.

This summer, to sharpen my saw I am:

  1. Continuing with Weight Watchers online (I have lost 20 pounds since March, and I’m looking to 30 more for a healthy BMI.)
  2. Taking tri weekly water aerobics classes and trying for at 10,000 steps or their equivalent
  3. Taking a graduate class from Wright State (I have two more to complete my 18 credit hours, making me officially College Credit Plus certified and bringing me to Master + 25, the maximum education on our contract salary schedule)
  4. Finishing my Google Certified Teacher, level 2 test (I just completed Level 1 this summer)
  5. Participating in weekly #ohedchats
  6. Learning about Voxer and reading Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros

What will you do, to keep your saw sharp this summer?

Image courtesy of Empowering Students to Lead

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Invoking empathy

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

George Couros says that “to be innovative, . . .focus on having empathy for those we serve.” To truly have empathy for others, we have to learn more than the single story students present to us in the classroom. It is not enough to look at students as they sit in our rooms and think we know who they are. It is not enough to pass out an index card or a link to a Google form. It is not enough to analyze a pre-test or assessment data.

Relationship building is key for reaching students where they are, rather than where we think they are. Without empathy, we teach in the style in which we are most comfortable, not in the style that is best for each learner. Truly working to know our students takes time, effort, and multiple attempts. I need to know my students’ passions. I need to know their background, where they come from, in order to know where they are going. And they need to know that I care, and that I am interested in them as people, not just data in my spreadsheet.